Ask BA

I was a little light on Danny Duffy in last week’s Ask BA. The day after that column appeared, Duffy sat at 93-94 mph and touched 97 in a five-inning start, earning a promotion to Double-A. The Royals are pushing for the top spot in our farm system rankings, and a better-than-ever Duffy only helps their cause further.

    Could Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon's injury cause him to slip from the first pick in the 2011 draft?

    Tim Avery
    Los Gatos, Calif.

Rendon became just the fourth sophomore ever to win Baseball America’s College Player of the Year award, joining Robin Ventura, John Olerud and Mark Teixeira. As I’ve stated before, I would have taken him over Bryce Harper with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft had Rendon been eligible.

Rendon broke and dislocated his right ankle in a baserunning mishap with Team USA on July 14, requiring a three-hour operation. Rice anticipates that he’ll be ready to go next spring, and the injury shouldn’t have any affect on his long-term ability. Speed isn’t a big part of Rendon’s game, and unless he’s slowed considerably, the ankle shouldn’t be a concern.

Teixeira in 2001 and Pedro Alvarez in 2008 missed significant portions of their draft years with injuries, yet both received the biggest deal of any position player in their draft. If Rendon doesn’t go No. 1 overall next year, it likely would be because of the depth of the draft class (Texas Christian lefthander Matt Purke, UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole and Texas righty Taylor Jungmann are legitimate top-pick candidates) and not because of his ankle.

    With the recent promotion of Domonic Brown to the Phillies, is the group of Brown, Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton and Stephen Strasburg the best group of prospects ever to debut in one season for four different teams in a division? At various times during this year, all four could argued as the best prospect in baseball: Heyward before the season, Strasburg starting the season, Stanton after Strasburg was promoted, and Brown after Stanton was promoted.

    Andrew Morelli

The quality of talent that has entered the National League East this season has been staggering. Heyward, Strasburg and Stanton ranked 1-2-3 on our Top 100 Prospects list entering the season, and Brown was No. 1 on our midseason update.

Since baseball went to a six-division format in 1994, this year’s NL East four-team foursome is the most star-studded we’ve seen. Brown, Heyward, Stanton and Strasburg all have a long way to go, but all have Hall of Fame potential.

I went back and found five other productive four-team foursomes, but none had four players as highly regarded as the current group. The NL East was responsible for two of the quartets, in 1996 (Vladimir Guerrero, Andruw Jones, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen) and 2003 (Miguel Cabrera, Chad Cordero, Jose Reyes, Chase Utley). The NL Central had a notable five-team fivesome in 2001 (Adam Dunn, Roy Oswalt, Albert Pujols, Ben Sheets, Carlos Zambrano), and another good foursome in 2007 (Ryan Braun, Josh Hamilton, Hunter Pence, Joey Votto). The American League Central debuted Curtis Granderson, Zack Greinke, Joe Mauer and Grady Sizemore in 2004.

The most impressive foursome in the six-division era was in the AL East in 1995—and they were all Yankees! Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera all arrived in New York in 1995, and none of them rated as the club’s No. 1 prospect entering the season. That honor went to Ruben Rivera, who fell well short of expectations.

    Did you have any thoughts on the American League dominance of your all-prospect dream team in last week's Ask BA? Out of 15 players, only three were from the National League. Is that simply a snapshot in time, subject to considerable change by the end of the season, or a commentary on the strength of the AL from the front office on down?

    Jeff Cos
    Hamilton, Ont.

While the AL is the clearly superior major league, the all-prospect team merely reflects a snapshot in time. Brown, Heyward, Stanton and Strasburg all would have made my dream team before the season. Buster Posey and Pedro Alvarez would have been on there, and I would have considered Starlin Castro as well, so my all-prospect squad would have had a heavy NL flavor.

Before the season, each league claimed 10 of the first 20 players on our Top 100 Prospects list, and the AL had a 6-4 edge in terms of the first 10 farm systems on our organization talent rankings Premium. The AL did place 17 players on our midseason Top 25 Prospects list, reflecting the same snapshot in time as my dream team. As for the best 20 players on our Draft Top 200, each league grabbed 10.

" July 26 Ask BA